Former Northampton Town Ladies defender and current captain of the Great Britain Deaf Women’s football team, Claire Stancliffe, has thrown her backing behind The FA’s SSE Wildcats programme, which is currently running throughout Northamptonshire.
SSE Wildcats Centres are specifically aimed at novice girls aged between 5 and 11, with the motto being to ‘have fun, make friends and play football’. The initiative aims to inspire participants to engage with football, make new friends, develop fundamental skills and create the foundation for a lifelong love of football.
15 Centres are now open across Northamptonshire where weekly sessions are delivered by qualified coaches, either after school or at weekends.
Four-time bronze medallist and SSE Wildcats Centre supporter, Claire Stancliffe, feels it’s really important that girls know where they can start playing football.
Speaking during her recovery from a serious knee injury sustained at the 2017 Deaflympics, Stancliffe said: “I support girls’ football and in particular the SSE Wildcats Centre programme because it’s really important we increase awareness about the opportunities available.”
The FA has introduced SSE Wildcats Centres to address the statistic that only 41% of girls regularly play football at age 10, compared to 95% of boys of the same age. FA research suggests that novice girls want informal opportunities to play football to increase their confidence, yet only 3% of mini soccer teams (under-7s to under-11s) are girls only teams.
Stancliffe’s experience supports this view. She started her football career at Redwell Junior School in Wellingborough, where she had to join in with the boys.
“When I was a child, these sorts of opportunities were not available, so I want to highlight this programme in the hope that someone sees and benefits from it. I would have loved to have taken part in the SSE Wildcats Centre programme if it was available to me back then,” said the defender, who previously played for Rushden & Diamonds and Northampton Town.
There are currently 15 SSE Wildcats Centres running across Northamptonshire, based at the following venues:
- Netherton United, Peterborough
- Nene Valley Community Centre, Peterborough
- Montsaye Sports Centre, Rothwell
- Southfield School, Kettering
- Wrenn School, Wellingborough
- Duston Sports Centre, Northampton
- Good Shepherd Primary School, Northampton
- Caroline Chisholm School, Northampton
- Daventry Leisure Centre
- Crick Sports Field
- Towcester Centre for Leisure
- Blisworth Football Club
- Brackley Town Football Club
To find out more details about the SSE Wildcats Centres in Northamptonshire, visit www.NorthamptonshireFA.com or contact Stuart Smith, Football Development Officer, on Stuart.Smith@NorthantsFA.com or 01604 678409.